The Inspired, Infallible, and Inerrant Word
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).
Our primary and final safeguard against false teaching is the Word of God. Verses 16 and 17 of 2 Timothy 3 are among the most important and significant in all the New Testament. They clearly declare the Source of Scripture and thus the Scripture’s authority. Second Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:21 for the basis for our conviction that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God.
Paul points out three important truths here: First, all Scripture is God-breathed. When Paul writes in that all Scripture is inspired, he is saying that the entire Bible and every word in it originates with God. Tom Constable correctly states that the Bible “does not merely contain the Word of God or become the Word of God under certain conditions. It is God’s Word, the expression of His person (heart, mind, will, etc.). This was the view of the Old Testament that Jews in the first century commonly held.”1 In verse 15 the Old Testament is in view but clearly a more expanded description of Scripture is presented here. It would also include the New Testament writings. In 2 Peter 3:2 the words of the OT prophets with those of the NT apostles, and vv. 15-16 of the same chapter include the writings of Paul with the rest of scriptures. Even though men penned the Scriptures, God is its Author. Since God cannot err, it is impossible for there to be errors in it. God’s Word is infallible and thus inerrant.
Second, as the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word, it is profitable. Its profitability is found in four functions. For:
- Teaching. A reference to the body of teaching that Christ and the apostles handed down to Church. The Bible is God’s Word to man. It is that which He wants us to know and as such it is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. The only way we are going to be right in our doctrine is by knowing what the Bible teaches. Bible doctrine is the foundation for godly living. Knowing the Bible and doing God’s will are inseparably connected. Jesus said, If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine (John 7:17 KJV). No believer will ever truly and consistently be fruitful unless he or she is grounded in sound doctrine.
- Rebuking. The Bible rebukes, it reproves, and refutes. It is the Word of God that lets us know what is wrong with us. It rebukes us about our sinful selves, exposing particular sins and faults, along with all those dishonest reasonings that we use to rationalize our sin. Paul spoke of the Bible as the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17). The author of Hebrews tells us that the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). As we study the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit takes it like a sharp two-edged sword and pierces into our heart, performing a mighty work.
- Correcting. The Bible not only tells us what is right (teaching/doctrine) and what is not right (rebuke/reproof), it also tells us how to get right (correcting). The Word of God instructs us how to get things right. In Proverbs 2:6 Solomon said, For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Wisdom is the ability of applying the truths we have been taught from Scripture; it is the ability to apply Bible knowledge to everyday situations. The Bible brings correction by pointing out the right way to live, and by providing supportive arguments and promises with which to implement the necessary changes.
- Training in righteousness. Once it has told us what is right, what is wrong, and how to get right, the Word tells us how to stay right. The Christian is constantly coming face to face with temptation with, on the one hand, the leading of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of God’s Word. On the other hand, Satan who is constantly trying to lead the believer astray. John says, My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin… (1 John 2:1). Clearly the Word of God was written for our instruction and training in righteousness, that we may not sin. The Word empowers us to recognize and choose what is righteous and to reject what is unrighteous, so that we begin to live in ways that honor and glorify God and useful to others. The Bible is the source of instruction on righteousness. So, the Bible not only shows us our faults, and restores us to the right path, but it also helps us to walk and remain in that path.
Third, the Bible is used so that the man of God may be complete, equipped…. We are ministers of reconciliation, ambassadors and representatives of God and His kingdom, disciple makers, children of the Almighty, and heirs and co-heirs with Christ. As such, we need to be adequately prepared and equipped. The word complete speaks of being mature. The Christian life is one of advancement and maturity, of conformation to the image of Christ, a process we call sanctification. Paul instructs us in Colossians 2:6-7, So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. Spiritual through the study of God’s Word is expected.
As we are maturing in the faith, we are becoming equipped for every good work. As a skilled laborer needs certain tools to properly build a house, furniture, or a vehicle, so must we be properly equipped to serve Christ and others. God’s Word provides everything we need to be mature, able, and competent in our service for Christ. Without a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, we cannot do every good work that the Lord has called us to do. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. God’s purpose in saving us goes beyond simply rescuing us from His wrath; God saved us to serve Him and to glorify Him doing so. In Titus 3:7-8 Paul writes, so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.
We must be faithful students of the Word, for it is by it that we test everything else that claims to be truth. It is the Word of God that safeguards from false teaching and provides us with the guidance we need to live godly lives that please and glorify God. How much time are we spending not just reading the Bible, but studying it? My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6) certainly finds application for us today.
It is quite unfortunate that many saints do not live up to their God-given potential by failing to exercise their God-given gifts by not serving the Lord and others. Are you one of those who goes to church to just consume while refusing to serve? We would do well to remember Paul’s words in Titus 2:14: He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works. We are all saved to serve!
1 Tom Constable, (2003). Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). Galaxie Software.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.